Usually, EA Sports is known for being the first to release its sports on a new console and for setting the pace for its competitors. But in regard to its famed FIFA series, it is playing catch-up on the Nintendo 3DS. With the bar already set by another popular soccer franchise earlier this year, EA Canada is hoping that the extra time will allow for a more refined experience. We had a chance to play around with the 3DS version of FIFA 12 before it launches at the end of September, and fans of sports games on portable consoles, specifically those who enjoy soccer, will be interested in seeing how this turns out.
Aesthetically, the 3DS version feels and looks eerily similar to last year's Wii version. Not only is the game developed by a lot of the same people involved with that version, but most of the modes included here were also implemented there. There are two key modes: Career mode acts as your Manager mode and lets you deal with all the aspects of your favorite club as you hope to lead it to league title glory. The other main mode is Be a Pro. Like in last year's FIFA 11 on the Wii, it has you begin your career as a low-level street soccer player and make your way through the years and hopefully one day play for the club of your dreams.
Modes aside, the real focus for FIFA 12 on the 3Ds is how it implements the power of the console. Graphically, the build we played ran quite well and looked on par with what is offered on the 3DS. The default behind-the-player control does a good job of showing off the 3D capabilities of the system. Those who aren't fans of that view perspective can switch to one of the more standard television angles available.
The use of the touch pad is limited outside of two pretty important aspects: shooting and dead-ball situations. In normal situations, the bottom screen is where the radar is located, but when you're put into a goal-scoring opportunity, the bottom screen reveals the net, and you can pinpoint where you would like the shot to go. The player's skill and the amount of time you hold down before shooting will determine how good the shot is. A nice touch is that on the screen, it features a green dot that shows where your initial shot was intending to go, and a blue dot will reveal where it actually went.
This shooting mechanic is a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it quickly feels like the better way of doing it instead of simply hitting the shoot button. The only downside is that if you're not intending to shoot and would rather cross the ball or perform any other action around the goal area, if you rely on the radar to see where your teammates are, then you will have to guess where they are.
As for the dead-ball situations, you can use the bottom screen to help curve shots. By swiping on the bottom screen in a number of motions, you can attack the goal in a number of different ways. Unsurprisingly, this method is extremely easy to grasp, and with the right player in control of the ball, scoring a goal should not be a problem.
Again, FIFA 12 on the 3DS launches at the end of September, and so far it is shaping up to be quite the treat for fans of the sport who love to take the action wherever they go. Be sure to come back in a few weeks to read our final thoughts of EA Sports' first soccer game on Nintendo's 3D portable console.